Details: Single BA model from Poland-based Custom Art, owned and operated by a long-time Head-Fi member piotrus-g
Base Price: €189 (est. $260) from thecustomart.com
Specs: Driver: BA | Imp: 41Ω | Sens: 109 dB | Freq: 10-20k Hz | Cable: 4.2’ L-plug
Wear Style: Over-the-ear
Accessories (5/5) – Cleaning tool, Otterbox 1000 crushproof storage/carrying case, and compact clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (5/5) – The Music One is a full-shell silicone custom monitor with excellent shell quality. A fixed cable is standard, but detachable cabling is available as an option. The fixed cable lacks external strain relief but the silicone of the shells does the same job better. The cord itself is among my all-time favorites – very soft and slightly rubberized, it is resistant to both microphonics and tangling. There are also far more customization options available for the Music One than my other silicone customs, and Custom Art even offers themed visual designs dubbed “State of Art” at an extra cost. My unit has blue shells, clear tips, and color-coded nozzles, and came with a matching blue carrying case
Isolation (5/5) – Excellent, falling just behind my Spiral Ear 3-way Reference, which has a musician’s fit with longer canals
Microphonics (5/5) – None – the soft, rubbery cable is completely silent
Comfort (5/5) – The flexible, low-profile silicone shells of the Music One can be hard to grip and take slightly longer to insert and remove compared to more rigid acrylic customs, but are extremely comfortable and maintain seal better with changes to ear canal shape, such as while chewing or talking. Built around a single balanced armature driver, the Music One has the lowest profile of all my custom monitors and its soft cables are made more unobtrusive by the lack of a strain relief and memory wire. All in all, it is the most comfortable of all my earphones, custom-fit or otherwise
Sound (9.2/10) – From the first listen it was clear that the Custom Art Music One, which utilizes a vented balanced armature driver, is one of the best earphones in its class. It pursues a very coherent, natural sound that impresses with its weight and smoothness. The low end extends well and offers up good impact. It is tighter than the boomier, more mid-bassy 1964EARS 1964-V3 but, as with the other silicone customs I’ve reviewed thus far, there is a certain difficult-to-describe characteristic to the bass that makes the earphones seem more impactful while taking away slightly from the detail and texture, which I attribute to the silicone. This allows the Music One to maintain good bass control while providing ample presence – more than with the dynamic-drover HiFiMan RE-400 and the Ultimate Ears 600, for example – but also means it can’t quite keep up with the low-end resolution of, for example, the pricier EarSonics SM64.
The mids of the Music One are smooth and clear, with good note thickness and again a very natural presentation. The midrange is definitely one of the strengths of the earphone but doesn’t present as overly forward, likely due to the impactful bass. The HiFiMan RE-400 and Ultimate Ears 600 both seem a touch more mid-centric than the Music One, for example. Clarity is excellent as well, falling just a hair behind higher-priced sets such as the EarSonics SM64 and 1964EARS V3.
The treble of the Custom Art is a little less prominent but still remains in good balance with the overall sound, reminding me of the way recent HiFiMan releases have been tuned. It is not the most crisp-sounding, but tends to be natural and smooth. The same is true of the presentation – the Music One has a spacious sound, especially compared to the majority of other single-BA earphones. It also impresses with good soundstage depth and the ability to portray intimacy properly when necessary, further making it a great all-rounder.
The A161P is a single-armature earphone based on a Knowles ED transducer and tuned for a crisp and punchy sound. The A161P and Custom Art Music One are not exceedingly different in terms of balance, and on some tracks sound rather similar overall. With in-depth listening, however, it becomes clear that the Music One is a significantly more refined earphone.
While the A161P has good bass punch for a single-armature set, the Music One is more impactful and has a thicker, weightier note presentation. Its tone is warmer overall and it makes the A161P sound thin in comparison. The A161P tends to be brighter and, next to the rather smooth Music One, sounds somewhat harsh and grainy. The A161P is also more forward while the Music One offers a wider presentation with better depth and imaging.
One of the many reasons the dynamic-driver VSonic GR07 has maintained its popularity over the past few years is that it can go toe to toe with many higher-priced sets. Pitted against the Custom Art Music One, it loses out in midrange and treble quality but partly makes up for it with great bass. The main differences lie in the midrange, where the Music One offers better presence and clarity. The GR07, in comparison, sounds slightly mid-recessed. This, in turn, accentuates the bass of the VSonics, which appears a little more impactful but also quicker compared to the Music One. The Custom Art unit offers smoother treble while the more energetic GR07 is susceptible to sibilance. The presentation of the GR07 tends to have good width and little else, while the Music One is more well-rounded and offers depth and imaging to match.
Long-time industry leader and innovator Etymotic Research first released the ER4 in 1991, and its ER4S tuning remains one of my all-time favorite universal-fit earphones. The Custom Art Music One and ER4S each have advantages over the other and it’s difficult to pick a clear winner here. The Music One definitely sounds fuller and warmer overall, thanks in part to its weightier low end. Despite the bass, however, it appears a bit more mid-centric overall. Its treble is less prominent and more forgiving, and its midrange – thicker and more attention-grabbing. The leaner ER4S can at times sound a touch clearer and has a small advantage in overall balance, while the Music One oftentimes sounds more natural thanks to its thicker, fuller sound.
The ClearTuneMonitors CT-200 is a dual-driver acrylic custom priced higher than the Custom Art Music One. It is a neutral-sounding earphone that rolls off gently at either end of the frequency spectrum. Compared to the CT-200, the Music One has an advantage in bass depth and impact. Its low end is more extended and powerful, and grants the earphone a warmer overall tone. The CT-200 is brighter overall, presenting more forward upper mids in comparison. It also sounds a touch clearer and its treble is more crisp, appearing a little more detailed as a result. In terms of presentation, the CT-200 is more spacious and open-sounding while the Music One tends to be slightly more intimate. Nonetheless, the Music One again sounds very natural in this comparison – arguably more so than the CT-200 thanks to its warmer, thicker sound.
The triple-driver, acrylic-shelled Alclair Reference is an accurate-sounding earphone that offers good presence across the entire frequency spectrum. It has similar bass depth and impact to the Custom Art Music One but tends to be a little tighter and more detailed. As with the VSonic GR07, its midrange is more recessed compared to the Music One, which has rather prominent mids. The Reference is still clearer, however, and seems more resolving as well. In general, the Alclair monitor sounds better up to the upper midrange, where it starts to display some stridency. Its treble is more prominent overall and tends to be peakier and more sibilant. The Music One, on the other hand, is smooth and far more forgiving, and sounds more natural overall in the treble region. Finally, the Reference is overall more spacious and images a little better than the Music One.
Value (10/10) – The Custom Art Music One is an excellent value, combining the noise isolation of custom-fit silicone shells with a single balanced armature driver delivering an organic, coherent sound. The ultra-light low-profile silicone shells of the Music One put its fit and comfort above not only universal monitors, but other customs as well. Lastly, in addition to great attention to detail spanning everything from the cable to the accessory pack, the Music One offers more customization options compared to other silicone CIEMs, making it an even tougher earphone to fault on any front.
Pros: Great isolation & comfort; fantastic cable; great audio performance
Cons: Low-profile shells can be tough to remove from ears